Press Release

Advanced Space Completes Milestone Testing for its Mission to the Moon

By SpaceRef Editor
February 17, 2022
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Westminster, CO (February 17, 2022) Advanced Space LLC., a leading commercial space tech
solutions company, had a successful test last week for CAPSTONE, a NASA-funded mission to the
Moon. Advanced Space owns and operates the CAPSTONE mission, a trailblazing pathfinder for the
Gateway. The Gateway, a lunar orbiting outpost, will support NASA’s Artemis missions that will
establish a long-term human presence at the Moon. CAPSTONE is the Cislunar Autonomous
Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment. It will help reduce risk for
future spacecraft by validating innovative technologies and verifying the dynamics of the Earth-Moon
halo orbit where the Gateway will operate.

The fourth Operational Readiness Test (ORT-4) for the CAPSTONE mission conducted by the
Advanced Space team simulated a week of real-time mission operations in a Near Rectilinear Halo
Orbit (NRHO), the designated orbit for Gateway, which is being developed by NASA and its
international and commercial partners. The Gateway will provide astronauts access to the lunar
surface and act as a staging point for deep space exploration. It will feature living quarters for
astronauts, a lab for science and research, and ports for visiting spacecraft. CAPSTONE will be the
first spacecraft to fly in this NRHO and one of the first CubeSats to fly in cislunar space. It will
traverse a low-energy ballistic lunar transfer and use solar perturbations to greatly decrease the
spacecraft propulsion requirements for the mission. It will also test the peer-to-peer navigation system
developed by Advanced Space, CAPS (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System), to determine its
position via crosslink measurements with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter without relying on
ground stations. CAPS is supported by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. CAPS
may enable autonomous navigation of satellites in cislunar space, helping to propel humans beyond
Earth in a sustained way.

“These tests confirm our Advanced Space team is ready for launch,” said Bradley Cheetham,
Advanced Space CEO. “We are excited to partner with NASA on this historic Moon mission.
CAPSTONE will change the way we explore space,” Cheetham added.

Previous tests also simulated NRHO operations, but an exciting addition for Advanced Space’s ORT-
4 was the expanded testing of CAPS crosslink procedures. As part of the CAPS planning procedures,
operators generate appropriate commands, like telling the spacecraft where to point, in order to
execute the CAPS activities on board the spacecraft. Additionally, in ORT-4, operators performed
real-time simulations of CAPS measurements on flight-like hardware.

“Our technology is a breakthrough for how NASA and other customers can navigate in space,” said
Dr. Jeff Parker, co-founder of Advanced Space, Chief Technology Officer, and author of the book Low-Energy Lunar Trajectory Design. “Each time we have a test event, our lessons learned and ideas
for improvements to our system allow us to better prepare for flight operations.”

The main objectives for ORT-4 were to demonstrate scripts and processes for Maneuver Planning
and Payload Planning and to exercise the Operations team in nominal and contingency situations in
NRHO operations. Additionally, the test conductors injected anomalies to test the Operations team
and expose them to possible contingency situations they might see in flight.

With the mission targeted for this Spring, these tests and constant communications with our partners
like Tyvak, the spacecraft manufacturer, and Rocket Lab, the launch provider, are critical and
increasing the level of excitement.

Advanced Space of Colorado owns the satellite and is responsible for overall mission operations.
Mission partners include:

  • NASA: CAPSTONE’s development is supported by the Space Technology Mission Directorate
    via the Small Spacecraft Technology Program and the Small Business Innovation Research
    program at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Advanced Exploration
    Systems within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate supports the
    launch and mission operations. NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center
    in Florida is responsible for launch management.

  • Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems: Spacecraft design, development and implementation, hardware manufacturing, assembly, and testing and mission operations

  • Stellar Exploration: Propulsion subsystem provider.

  • Rocket Lab USA, Inc.: Launch provider that will launch CAPTONE on a three-stage Electron launch vehicle.

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): Communication, tracking, and telemetry downlink via NASA’s Deep Space Network, Iris radio design and groundbreaking 1-way navigation algorithms.

  • Space Dynamics Lab (SDL): Iris radio and navigation firmware provider.

  • Orion Space Solutions (formerly Astra): Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC) hardware

    provider necessary for the 1-way ranging experiment.

    About Advanced Space

    Advanced Space ( supports the exploration, development, and settlement of
    space through software and services that leverage unique subject matter expertise to improve the
    fundamentals of spaceflight. Advanced Space is dedicated to improving flight dynamics technology
    development and expedited turn-key missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

    Learn more about what Advanced Space is creating; check out details on the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning
    System Technology Operations Navigation Experiment mission page.

Media Contact

Dawn Massop Love

SpaceRef staff editor.